An Academy Award win not only gives actors a major career boost, the gold statuette also makes them much more persuasive and valuable brand ambassadors.
While that has always been suspected, a new study from celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev quantifies just what an Oscar can bring to a brand.
And it’s a lot.
Sehdev found that having an ambassador who took home the award for best actor, best actress or one of the supporting roles boosts a brand’s annual sales by 1.5 percent on average.
The study suggests that Lupita Nyong’o’s win for best supporting actress in “12 Years a Slave” brought in an additional $63 million in sales for Lancôme over the past year, while Giorgio Armani saw a $37 million boost from Cate Blanchett’s best actress nod for “Blue Jasmine.”
“It’s a remarkable payoff,” said Sehdev, a marketing professor at the University of Southern California who keeps close watch on consumer opinion.
With all those sales dollars up for grabs, Dior executives on Sunday will have their fingers crossed just as much as Marion Cotillard, who’s up for an award for her role in “Two Days, One Night.” And Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry will be pulling all the more for Felicity Jones, nominated for her performance in “The Theory of Everything.”
Once the parties die down on Monday, reps for the actors might be looking to renegotiate their brand deals.
“Talent agencies, [chief marketing officers] have really been working in the pitch black,” Sehdev said. “Now at least they have a guide on their negotiations.”
To make this connection between award and cash register, Sehdev used what’s known as an intervention model, which takes into account the impact of advertising by the brand and its competitors, any price promotions by the brand or in the market, and the intensity of those promotions. Data from Nielsen was used to calculate weekly sales, price promotions and monthly advertising expenditures.
The financial impact of Oscar’s coattails is a tribute to the brand built around the award itself.
“An Oscar has an enormous symbolic value,” Sehdev said. “There is so much credibility and trust that has been building in the Oscar brand over the years. It is the ultimate for an actor and I think people recognize that it embodies the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality of Hollywood.”
He said that Oscar winners are seen as 62 percent more admired, 40 percent less disliked, 25 percent cooler and 37 percent more trusted than non-Oscar winners.
Not all Oscar winners were created equal, though.
Sehdev said brands that hire megastars who win Oscars see a bigger gain in sales than those that link up with a newcomer who happens to strike it big with the Academy.
But the effect is fleeting.
Sehdev said the boost from a brand ambassador’s Oscar halo lasts for 12 to 14 months and has decreasing returns.